Abstract and Prologue
PART ONE: COMING TO TERMS WITH THE SCRIPTURAL SILENCE
Chapter One: Nietzsche’s Challenge
Chapter Two: The Layered Gospel Context
Chapter Three: Today’s Warring Intellectual Context
Chapter Four: A Perpetual Warring Intellectual Context
Chapter Five: A Primer—The Bible’s Broadest Theme
Chapter Six: The Voice of Conscience
Chapter Seven: The Voice of God as the Passion Event
Chapter Eight: Tillich’s Challenge
PART TWO: HYPOTHESIZING THE CROSS AS SUPREME ANSWER
Chapter Nine: Hypothesizing the Cross as Supreme Answer
Chapter Ten: A Challenge from Enlightened Self-Interest
Chapter Eleven: A Challenge from Kantian Autonomy
Chapter Twelve: The View from James’ Radical Question
Chapter Thirteen: The View from Sartre’s Bad Faith
Chapter Fourteen: Kierkegaard’s Challenge to Intelligibility
Concerning Pilate’s famous question, “What is truth?” Scripture as a whole is silent at a philosophical level.That categorical silence seems scandalous, since Jesus’ metaphysical claim to have come “into the world to testify to the truth” prompted the question. Analysis of the full biblical context, however, reveals the opposite: The passion story does in fact portray an answer to Pilate’s question, as well as to what William James called “the radical question of life.” Part One focuses mainly on the biblical context. Part Two provides a conceptual context to frame the biblical.
At the base of the highest mountain in
But be advised: A faith that does not engage doubt does not engage humanity’s core existential question, namely, “Is there a best or right way to understand our humanity?” In coming to see that faith plays a defining role in human life, it will become clear that the polemical line between faith and skepticism runs right through the human heart, rendering any one-sided view of faith meaningless without its counterpart: there can be no mountain without an accompanying lowland. That is, the point of faith—its “peak”—emerges from doubt. Those who treat doubt as the opposite of faith, instead of its origin, will not see faith’s core meaning.
Upon hearing me explain that I decided not to go to seminary because I had too many unresolved questions, a pastor friend recently replied, “I was too smart to get tangled up with those questions.” We both let the foot-in-mouth remark pass, as was appropriate in friendly conversation. Yet it illustrates an all too common attitude that this little book seeks to challenge and set right: that faith and skepticism are antonyms. This little monograph confronts Christian anti-intellectualism by illustrating that skepticism at its greatest depth leads to an understanding of faith at its greatest height. Accordingly, I have placed the most trenchant criticism of Christian faith that I know of at the beginning of this little book: Nietzsche’s comment on the exchange between Jesus and Pilate in The Gospel According to John—the exchange which led to Pilate’s famous question, “What is truth?”
Enjoy the climb.